While many students spent their summer decked out in Nike gear or shooting photos with a Nikon, Carlos Molina was busy working behind the scenes for those respective brands.
The 23-year-old graduate student at The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley landed a 10-week paid internship this past summer with McCann Worldgroup in New York City. McCann is the world’s largest advertising agency network, with prominent global clients like Coca-Cola, GM, General Mills and MasterCard.
“Even though I was living in New York and working at McCann, I would look up at the buildings and think, every day, ‘Am I really here?’” Molina says. “Being surrounded by other individuals who share the same interests is probably one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had, and I wouldn’t change that for anything because I made long-lasting friendships and connections.”
The Mission native was one of 145 students from 63 colleges and universities selected to intern at top advertising agencies across the nation, as part of the Multicultural Advertising Internship Program (MAIP). He is a University of Texas-Pan American alumnus who earned his bachelor’s degree in spring 2013, and he will graduate in December with a master’s in communication from UTRGV.
MAIP, an initiative sponsored by the American Association of Advertising Agencies, seeks to bring diversity to the advertising industry by sourcing top talent for agencies to select. MAIP consists of a 22-week fellowship program – 12 weeks of virtual online training and a 10-week agency internship in various advertising disciplines such as art direction, media planning and copywriting.
As an account management intern at McCann Worldgroup, Molina was the middleman between the clients and the agency’s creative team. He worked with clients such as Cigna Health Insurance, coordinating meetings, conducting competitive research and writing weekly blogs. He also presented a creative pitch for Nikon to some of its executives.
“I learned how to be a leader and how to manage my time in terms of the assignments I had to do,” Molina said. “I was able to work with art directors, copywriters, strategists and, ultimately, I learned that you have to be able to communicate well with people to make sure everybody is on the same page.”
Working as a graduate assistant at the Graduate College (on what is now the UTRGV Edinburg Campus) for the past year and a half helped Molina perfect his communications skills and apply them to his internship, specifically during a calling campaign for the client New York Lottery.
“We had to do 60 calls and I finished them within a day,” he said. “When it comes to calls, I’m not scared to talk to people and I was talking to people who were CEOs at other agencies. To be able to do that and not get nervous was probably one of the greatest things I was able to get from working at the Graduate College.”
Under MAIP, Molina led a team of nine fellows interning in agencies throughout the nation to develop a Nike campaign for Wieden+Kennedy, an agency headquartered in Portland, Ore. Fellows also attended professional development workshops and seminars sponsored by their corresponding agencies.
Michael Morettoni, account manager at McCann, said Molina was a pleasure to work with and a great asset to the team.
“As a smaller team on a global account at a big agency, every report he wrote, article he summarized, and project he supported on was more than helpful,” Morettoni said. “It was great to have someone on the team who was so curious and full of questions – the mindset everyone at an ad agency should have.”
Molina began his final semester as the designated MAIP campus ambassador for UTRGV. By sharing his experience with peers, Molina hopes to remind them that they too can land the internship of their dreams.
“It seemed unreal to me that I was there and working at one of the top agencies,” he said. “I’d always go to work with a smile on my face, seeing the buildings as a reminder to me that it can be done.”
After graduation Molina hopes to resume to the “breathing and living advertising” lifestyle he had in New York City by pursuing a career in account management.
“Even walking around Times Square you see advertising everywhere, you can’t escape it and I want to be surrounded by it,” Molina said. “I would like to continue account management because I like communicating with people. I’m not afraid to approach anyone and have a conversation about something going on in the industry.”
Molina plans to pursue his doctoral degree in the future, and return to the Valley as an advertising professor.
“I think what makes being a professor so remarkable is that you’re able to give back and share your knowledge and it’s not just by textbook, you’re going beyond by sharing actual experiences and that’s what makes the class fun,” Molina said.
Through the MAIP program, Molina looks forward to seeing more students from the university contribute their ideas, backgrounds and cultures to the advertising industry.
“The opportunities are endless considering that we have students who are dedicated and they’re constantly pushing the boundaries to better themselves,” he said. “Having that passion to go out there and beyond is what’s going to keep UTRGV glowing for the years to come.”